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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Junichi Tazawa challenged the baseball establishment in Japan in 2008 when he signed with the Red Sox. It was a move so unexpected that a special rule was passed to make sure it didn’t happen again.
Tazawa was a star in the semi-professional Japanese Industrial League and sure to be a first-round selection in the Nippon Professional Baseball draft. But the righthander took a three-year, $3.3 million deal with the Red Sox instead.
The NPL quickly ruled that any prospect who spurned the draft in such fashion would face a three-year suspension should he ever try to return to the Japanese league. For Tazawa, going home to finish his career may never be an option.